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Between 2011 and 2014, poet and artist Gregory O'Brien found himself following the migratory routes of whales and seabirds across vast tracts of the South Pacific Ocean, resulting in a work of poetry that O'Brien describes as acts of devotion in a homage to a series of remarkable locations and to the natural histories of those places. In three parts, this collection stretches across the Pacific, following whale-roads, weather balloons and sons at sea, charting historical explorations and recent disasters such as the grounding of the Rena, along with other Pacific realisms the Pacific trash vortex, the wavering democracy of Tonga, the political history of Chile. These poems are an exploration of outlying islands, the ocean that lies between them, and the whale-species and sea birds found there. From Waihi looking east and Valparaiso looking west, in Whale Years O'Brien surveys the cultural heart and health of an ocean in memorable, musical, moving lines.
Gregory O'Brien is an independent writer, teacher, painter, literary critic and art curator. He has written many books of poetry, fiction, essays and commentary. Recent publications with Auckland University Press, New Zealand include Beauties of the Octagonal Pool (2012), A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy (2011) and the multi-award-winning introductions to art Welcome to the South Seas and Back and Beyond.